GOES-16: Taking Weather Forecasting to New Heights

Date Posted: April 3, 2017
Satellite Goes-16

NOAA’s latest geostationary weather satellite is on orbit and sending back beautiful images of Earth’s Western Hemisphere. GOES-R successfully launched on November 19, 2016 and became GOES-16 when it reached geostationary orbit. The first light data and imagery from each of the six instruments on board GOES-16 have been released and calibration and validation activities are underway.

The GOES-16 field campaign has begun! Get reports from the field over the next three months as we fine-tune instruments aboard the satellite using high-altitude planes, ground-based sensors, drones and other satellites.

On January 23, the first images from GOES-16 were released, providing a glimpse of the future of weather forecasting. GOES-16 scans the Earth five times faster than NOAA’s previous generation of geostationary satellites, with four times the resolution and three times more spectral channels, for more accurate weather forecasts and severe weather outlooks.

This composite color full-disk visible image of North and South America and the surrounding oceans is from January 15, 2017, and was created using several of the 16 spectral channels available on the GOES-16 ABI. Credit: NOAA/NASA
GOES-16 captured this view of the moon as it looked across the surface of the Earth on January 15. Like earlier GOES satellites, GOES-16 will use the moon for calibration. Credit: NOAA/NASA



GOES-16 is also transmitting previously unavailable lightning data. The satellite carries the first operational lightning mapper flown in geostationary orbit, measuring lightning activity 24/7, which will help forecasters know when a storm is forming, intensifying and becoming more dangerous. Rapid increases of lightning activity can indicate a storm may produce severe weather. NOAA unveiled this brand new lightning data on March 6.

GOES-16 also keeps an eye on weather in space. The satellite hosts a suite of instruments that provide significantly improved detection of approaching space weather hazards, such as radiation, power blackouts, and communications and navigation disruptions. One of these instruments observes the sun and provides warnings of solar eruptions. The first GOES-16 solar images were released on February 27, showing a large coronal hole.

See more of this preliminary data and imagery from GOES-16 at https://go.usa.gov/xXqKe.

GOES-16, the first in the series of four NOAA next-generation geostationary weather satellites, launched on November 19, 2016, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The satellite, which was known as GOES-R at launch, became GOES-16 when it reached geostationary orbit at the end of November. GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch. Once a satellite has achieved orbit, it is assigned a number. By June 2017, NOAA is expected to announce the planned operational location for GOES-16. The satellite will reside in orbit as either GOES East or GOES West and be fully operational by November 2017.
For more information on GOES-R Series satellites, please see www.goes-r.gov.

Photo 3. GLM lightning data accumulated over one hour, during which GLM acquired 1.8 million images of the Earth from the afternoon of February 14, 2017. Brighter colors indicate more lightning energy was recorded; color bar units are the calculated kilowatt-hours of total optical emissions from lightning. The brightest storm system is located over the Gulf Coast of Texas. Coverage over the oceans enables more timely and reliable severe weather forecasts for aircraft traveling oceanic routes where no weather radar coverage is available and for maritime shipping across the entire hemisphere. Credit: NOAA/NASA

Photo 4. These images of the sun were captured at the same time on January 29, 2017, by the six channels on the SUVI instrument on board GOES-16 and show a large coronal hole in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Each channel observes the sun at a different wavelength, allowing scientists to detect a wide range of solar phenomena important for space weather forecasting.